Books

Holmes Own Story

I’ve seen references to this document, but not an actual copy. Here is a digital version of H.H. Holmes biography where he refutes the myriad of crimes he’s accused of. It also includes portions of his Moyamensing prison diary.

I have just started getting into this one, but oddly, Holmes comes across as a rather talented writer.

Holmes’ own story, in which the alleged multi-murderer and arch conspirator tells of the twenty-two tragic deaths and disappearances in which he is said to be implicated, with Moyamensing prison diary appendix.
Portraits on covers. Autograph letter from the author to Samuel W. Pennypacker bound before title.

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Demon of Brownsville Rd by Bob Cranmer–A few thoughts on the matter

While I have no doubt Bob and his family experienced some troubles and trials in the house, I find it very hard to think of this as anything more than an Amityville clone and all the dubiousness that entails.

It’s hard to ignore the mental illness which presents itself as violence, depression and self-harm. We see that as bipolar for Bobby, cutting for Charlie, and depression of his wife. These are very earthly ailments.

To be critical, the first 8 chapters are filled with self-praise for Bob as he casts himself in the role of hero to save the town and the house. He goes up against the corrupt system and takes on the evil invading his home. It’s even mentioned that he has the strength to keep up the vigil to battle evil, but he doesn’t think the rest of the family is strong enough for the challenge.

In the early days, Bob felt his calling might be that of a preacher. To that end, the book is a sermon about good and evil. Evil is a real thing, a tangible thing, a thing that causes a ripple effect and takes hold of people. It also feels like a way to explain, justify and excuse the behavior of his household during his political career.

This has tinges of Salem Witch Trial hysteria. In every action, in every deed, in every misstep the devil is at work. If someone misbehaves, it’s the work of the devil. If things don’t go according to plan, it’s the work of the devil. If you lose an election, it’s the work of the devil. It’s surprising a hole wasn’t bored into their heads to let out the evil spirits.

Also, it’s become common to link Native American land to paranormal events. However, considering the entire US is Native American land, that is a tiresome and weak argument. To the point, the house next door is on Native American land. So is the one across the street and the one behind. What are their paranormal events? What demon is in their homes? This supposed "ripple effect" should impact everyone, so the house next door should be just as oppressed as this one. Where is their book?

My home is nearly 100 years old and is within eyesight of Native American land with many places in the area named after different tribes. I’m also in the South, the real South, were people were pissed about the Rebel Flag coming down. You cannot tell me for a moment there wasn’t death, violence and hatred on the very soil this house sits on. And I refuse to believe that in the nearly 100 years it’s been standing that someone, if not several people, haven’t died in the house. If you look at your history, death was not the morbid occurrence of today, so most houses had a viewing room where the body would be displayed before burial. Because of superstition, we now call it the living room.

The point being, I am 100% convinced there has been death in and around this house, on Native American soil and over racial prejudice, but there is nothing haunted going on. This Native American connection has truly run it’s course.

When it comes to the mad abortion doctor, where is the proof of his drunken butchery? If his activities are so well know, and he was so damn incompetent, where is the arrest record? Not like he would be in business long if patients ended up dead in his house all the time. This sort of activity would leave a paper trail somewhere.

As far as the smells and bleeding walls go, seems like an old house could easily give off a serious odor. It could be there are some dead animals in the walls or tucked away somewhere else giving off an offensive odor.

And are we absolutely sure that the "blood" that keeps showing up isn’t from some material in the house like rusty pipes, asbestos, dye, stain, mold, fungus or spores? Some unique materials were back in the day. It’s even said, the sample they took had mold in it. Mold staining the wall sounds far more plausible than blood.

Lastly, we have curses on the house. The workers who built the house were educated and skilled enough to put the house together but felt a curse was in order? Doesn’t seems likely. It’s hard to prove the casting of a curse, but this too sounds like rumor. About the only link to curses are some playing cards. That’s not really evidence of anything.

Also in the rumor realm is the killed worker. I don’t dispute that mill conditions were dangerous and it’s actually possible and even plausible, but to say it did happen and has a connection to this house is wild speculation.

Aside from the good vs. evil tale, we also have reincarnation. Bob is reborn after being terminated as by the mad butcher. The woman seen in the house is his mother and he has been tasked as a Warrior for Christ to come and cleanse the house.

That tosses in the final ingredient in his cacophony of paranormal elements. The only thing missing is the Ouija.

It’s hard to believe in the supernatural elements of this story when a far more plausible answer is presented at the beginning. Mental distress can manifest itself in a lot of ways.

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Demon of Brownsville Rd by Bob Cranmer – Review

The Demon of Brownsville RdThe Demon of Brownsville Rd caught my attention last year after a comment was made about Bob Cranmer and his experiences. I listened to several interviews and radio shows, but didn’t pursue the matter further. It sounded similar Amityville and with the repeated tagline, “it’s in the book”, I put the matter aside. The cost to hear this tale wasn’t worth it to me.

After Bob left a comment, I decided to have another look at his story. Although Bob offered to send me a book, I declined and went with the Kindle version with the additional purchase of the audiobook.

The narrative is broken into three parts, covering Bob’s background and events leading up to purchasing the house, the events that took place including investigations and evidence gathering and the final part with more details about the history of the house and resolution of events.

Part I describes Bob’s want to purchase the house and making an offer. This includes the classic tale of the previous owners need to sell quickly, accepting the first offer and rushing them through the sale process before any questions are asked.

Once the deal is done, we get information of a mad abortion doctor and his use of the house. This is coupled with a connection to the haunting of the doctor’s house and Bob’s visit to that same house years before.

We then have Bob’s involvement in politics to help clean up the town and multiple stories about the behavioral and emotional problems of his kids and his wife. This culminates in a fight between Bob and his son, who is on anti-depressants, wherein the police are called and Bob is arrested. We then have treatment at a psychiatric facility for his wife. All of this is brought on by the dark shadow that hangs over and dwells within the house.

Part II begins to chronicle the terrorizing events of the house. It is said that the sins of the house have led to this demonic infestation. This evil entity has caused his sons and wife to be on medication with his boys listening to dark music and dressing in a Goth fashion.

The paranormal events include things being moved, clocks not working, a crucifix being mangled, rosary beads being mangled, a flying CD, scratches and for the walls to start bleeding.

We continue to see both the mental state of his sons decline while their aptitude for violence increase. There are multiple fights with Bobby while Charlie is cutting himself and turns suicidal. His wife becomes reckless with spending and his grandson Collin is showing development issues because of the forces inside the house.

Part III brings in help from the Paranormal Research Society with Ryan Buell at the helm. With his help, Bob feels they find the lair of the demon hidden within the center of the house.

Bob also gets help from a Medium who reveals there are curses on the house from the workman who originally built it. It’s even stated that a worker from the mill that produced the house boards was killed and his blood stains the house.

Bob is also told the evil that inhabits the house has caused a ripple effect all through town. It is responsible for the mob related taverns and was at the heart of the first drive by shooting.

We continue to get more information about the abortion doctor and the blood of the innocents washed down the tub. This also comes with a vision of a woman in white, pictures being turned around, shadow figures and the constant smell of sulphur.

There is also a connection with the land as Bob learns about a massacre of a mother and her three children at the hands of the Native Americans. They are said to be buried on the property where an oak tree now stands. Through dousing rods and modern technology, they feel they have proof of a depression in the soil where bodies are most likely buried.

Despite all the setbacks, Bob believes himself to be preordained to fight this evil. As I mentioned in my original comments, this involves playing Passion of the Christ 24 hours a day and bringing in multiple sets of priests for cleansing rituals, prayers and mass. And through these rites they are finally able to overcome the dark forces and expel the evil from the home.

As part of the epilogue, we learn that much of the Medium work was relayed to Bob from a woman named Connie. She states, “You were killed there in that house and you were chosen to come back”. Bob has been reincarnated as he was first terminated as a baby in that house and has been chosen to tell the story. This explains the woman in the white dress he has seen several times.

She came to the doctor for help as she was pregnant from a relationship with a politician and needed to be relieved of her burden. This explain Bob’s connection to the house and why he has come full circle to save it.

After reaching the end, there is an aura of Amityville to this tale. It includes just about paranormal event we’ve heard of from sulphur smells, to 3 line scratches, to dark shadows to a woman in white. We even have a link to Native Americans.

And like Amityville, it raises a lot of questions. With so much going on, is this the work of a demonic or malevolent spirit? Is the land curses not only by the workers, but from the Native Americans in response to the encroachment of outsiders? Can the sins of the past manifest themselves as oppressive forces?

Or are there more earthbound explanations as to what happened in the house?

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The Devil in White City

image After reading Bloodstains, many reviewers on Amazon suggested this was the next "definitive guide" to Holmes and his notorious crimes during the Columbian Exposition or Chicago World’s Fair as it was known. This book was to give a chronology of events and reveal details of Holmes and his activities.

It didn’t.

After reading Devil in White City, I once again felt duped. I trudged through 400+ pages of mind numbing details about the men tasked with the fair, their delays, the in fighting, the poor sales, the bad weather, union strikes, the lack of respect for landscaping, the toothaches, the headaches, the trash, the noise, the pigs and even the items listed on the dinner menu, waiting for the details about Holmes. Out of the 400 pages, only 40-50 revolve around Holmes and they were nothing but vague summaries that you could read about in Wikipedia. For someone who can just about document the number of bolts used in the Ferris Wheel, the details about Holmes’ Castle, life and crimes are shockingly hollow. In fact, Holmes is nothing more than a cameo appearance in this book and in my opinion is used as a lure to sell this book.

Every day I wondered why I kept reading. I thought perhaps the book would transition to an account of Holmes once the fair was up and running.

It didn’t.

There is absolutely nothing interesting or new to be learned about Holmes. The Strange Case of H. H. Holmes will give infinitely more detail than this long-winded tome. Even as an account of the fair itself it falls short. Erik Larson bogs down with excruciating details that simply don’t matter. Far too much time and too many pages are dedicated to meeting, dinners, train rides and trips abroad. This book should be condensed to 100 pages and it would be quite enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this is a bloated and boring read that left me frustrating for having wasted so much time when I learned so little. If you’re interested in reading about H.H. Holmes, aka Herman Webster Mudgett, look elsewhere. Again, you can read more in less time through Wikipedia.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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